Tale of a Timid Remodeler, Part II

by Cyndy
(California, USA)

The new kitchen hutch

The new kitchen hutch

Regarding the rest of the cabinets, after talking to the various cabinetmakers, I realized my old bottom cabinets already had many of the features they were trying to sell, such as roll-out shelves and a lazy Susan for the corner cabinet, and they were very well built (unlike the hanging upper cabinets). So I decided to re-face the bottom cabinets.

This meant brand new doors with automatic, soft-closing hinges, but the surrounding walls of the cabinets simply had a veneer placed over them. I was able to match the wood and stain to my new hutch.

I was a bit worried that the refacing would be cheap-looking and eventually peel like veneers can do, but after a couple years now of living with it, I've completely let go of that concern.

No one ever comes in and sees these cabinets as being refaced, and there is not one edge that has any signs of wear or peeling. So this definitely saved time, money, and mess!

Next came the appliances.

I spent countless hours browsing the internet for reviews and best prices, then more hours touring local stores, with endless figuring and recalculating to see how I could get the best for the least.

In the end, I learned 2 things that could have saved me a lot of time:

(1) Nobody gives discounts on the higher-end Wolf and Miele appliances; and

(2) good old Sears-Roebuck offers to price-match anything found either on the internet or in town, plus 10% off that.

So I bought my range and dishwasher at a local appliance store that specializes in those brands, and got my frig and microwave at Sears.

I am pleased with all my appliance choices, but tickled to death with the dishwasher. That was the one item I thought I could scrimp on, since we rarely used our old one, but I caved in to the salesman and bought the expensive Miele La Perla.

I've used it every day since. It has its own water softening system, so dishes come out clean and sparkling. I highly recommend it!

The one thing I did wrong with the appliances was having the microwave built in a little too high for complete ease of use by me or anyone shorter than me - so pay attention to how the microwave door opens (i.e., on a side hinge or bottom hinge). Mine is on a bottom hinge, and now I need to get on a stool to clean it!

Lastly, the countertop. Look at the before and the after pics - the countertop remains the same! The various countertops in vogue at the time I was doing this project were granite, wood, and stainless steel, none of which hold any appeal for me.

Despite all the sage advice against it, the only material I can envision for my countertop is limestone. I've been told it will deteriorate and stain quickly and irreparably, but I think the "sunny gold" variety would blend beautifully with my terracotta floors, the wood of the cabinets, and the off-white walls.

Even my geologist husband agreed with me, saying that buildings of limestone have lasted centuries (although I know those buildings don't have lemon juice and vinegar squirted on them daily).

But once again, my timidity has kept me from allowing myself that finishing touch to the kitchen, and the original white tile countertop remains for now.

My husband wants to finish up the countertop this year sometime, but I am still in a quandary over it - What if the limestone is truly a regrettable choice? And in this new, worrisome economy, do we really need to spend money on it when the current countertop works just fine?

Will the old tile simply go into the landfill, or can I find someone who will re-use it? Lastly, can I stand the mess of removal and replacement? We'll see.

Overall I've accomplished my major goal. I am no longer affronted by my ugly kitchen whenever I come into the room.

But, alas, I am a decidedly timid decorator.

I still need to make that decision on the countertop, and to accessorize. I continue to comb local shops and online for embellishments.

One idea I have, for above the range instead of the usual tiled backsplash is to hang an artisan, paddle-type cutting board. I think it would match the wooded cabinets, add to the Mediterranean feel, and be useful: I will need a multitude of cutting boards close at hand if I decide on that limestone countertop!

Renate's Reply: Thank you, Cyndy, for sharing this goldmine of information and inspiration! I'm sure you'll find the perfect countertop - and of course, we're expecting an update with your limestone user feedback in the future ;-)
(Skip back to: Part 1)

Comments for Tale of a Timid Remodeler, Part II

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Great view!
by: Sam

Cyndy, that picture at the top of your story, the view through to the kitchen hutch, is just gorgeous. I think I'd sit there every day to read the papers & look up every once in a while & smile to myself :-)

What a transformation!
by: Tess

Shows how little you actually have to do to get a completely different look! I'll take a page out of your book when I get around to doing my own kitchen next year.

by: Sam

Your new kitchen looks great, you've added lots of character to it already. Whatever else you do now will only put the cherry on top of the cake.

I think you've done a beautiful job.

Love it
by: Helen

I love the look of your new kitchen. It's warm but not over-the-top fake Tuscan. It looks real. The picture at the top of the page is beautiful!

Less space?
by: Joan

Hi Cyndy, it looks like you now have less storage space - with one hanging cabinet less and the open hutch. What did you do - throw stuff away, or reorganize?

Full of good ideas!
by: Jan

It never occurred to me you could reface the inside of your cabinets. What a great money saver.

Also, I really think it's worth taking your time over a kitchen so you get what's best. I'm sure if you keep looking around and researching countertop ideas like you have done, you'll end up with the perfect choice. Do you know anyone who has a limestone countertop? What's their experience with the material?

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